StretchSense Limited, New Zealand manufacturer of wearable sensing systems, has announced that it has completed negotiation for a call option agreement that allows its investor StartToday Co., Ltd. to selectively conduct full acquisition of StretchSense in the future.
StretchSense's New Zealand operations, encompassing two sites in Auckland with over 130 employees, will continue operation across all departments, with further growth to be supported by the resources afforded by the acquirer.
Ben O'Brien, StretchSense CEO, says: "This deal with StartToday is a great sign for New Zealand's technology ecosystem. It proves it's possible for a Kiwi technology company to build itself up from essentially nothing into a world-class operation capable of competing on the global stage. Our relationship with StartToday began because of our technology, but it's the value of our people and Kiwi expertise that have led us to this point, as well as our compatibility with StartToday's fantastic company culture."
Recently placed seventh on the 2017 Deloitte Fast 50, StretchSense is one of New Zealand's rising technology stars. This endorsement from StartToday is the next step in nurturing an innovation culture in New Zealand, developing the country's technology sector and helping to create further opportunities in the future. StretchSense will continue to be a key part of New Zealand's contribution to technology and innovation worldwide, leveraging the resources of StartToday to drive wearable technology forward.
StretchSense received a series of investments from StartToday in 2016 These investments helped StretchSense advance their stretch sensor technology to enable the ZozoSuit, announced last week by the Japanese fashion retailer. StartToday currently holds 39.9% ownership (fully diluted basis) of StretchSense, with today's agreement securing its right to acquire 100% ownership should it choose to exercise the option.
The option price paid by StartToday for the proposed agreement is US$20 million. Should StartToday choose to exercise the option, it can acquire full ownership of StretchSense at a strike valuation of US$120 million, which equates to approximately US$72 million for the remaining 60.1% of the company. The option expires on September 30, 2018.
The agreement is scheduled to be executed by the end of this month and is pending final approval by the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office.
StretchSense is proud to see the release of ZozoSuit by StartToday Co. The first consumer-ready wearable product built with StretchSense's unique sensor technology, the ZozoSuit was developed in close collaboration between the two companies and provides precise measurement of body shape to solve the problem of fit when buying clothes online.
StretchSense's mission is to go beyond wearables and towards "disappearables" — truly smart garments with unobtrusive sensors and electronics that feel invisible to the wearer. The ZozoSuit is a realization of that vision, blurring the line between clothing and technology with lightweight sensing elements, flexible cabling and miniaturized electronics all fully integrated into a skin-tight garment.
Ben O'Brien says: "We've been talking about disappearables for years now — clothing where it's not clear where the garment ends and the sensors start. Today I am proud to see the launch of a true disappearable from StartToday. It's the most ambitious thing we've ever done."
Made with over 150 integrated capacitive stretch sensors, the full-body smart garment conforms to the wearer and delivers precise data on body shape and size. StartToday's goal for the ZozoSuit is to ensure online clothing shoppers get a guaranteed fit with their purchases, significantly improving customer satisfaction while reducing the number of returns the retailer has to process.
Shin Jeong Park, StretchSense Marketing Director, says: "The ability to measure body size is just one of the applications possible with a smart sensing body suit. Stretch sensors are a great tool to capture information about how people move in the world; from that information you can draw conclusions about motion, pose and health. The data from our sensing technology is helping to push the boundaries of human performance."
Source and top image: StretchSense